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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Spain and Portugal - Andalucia and Alentejo Portugal

SPAIN | Thursday, 14 May 2015 | Views [146]

Cordoba - Mezquita

Cordoba - Mezquita

Malaga, Cordoba & Granada (Andalucia, Spain), Monsaraz, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Evora, Redondo, Arraiolos, Montoito, Lavre, Odemira, Vila Nova de Milfontes, (Alentejo, Portugal) – Getting our “history fix”!

After a week we leave the Algarve and go back to Spain to return the big car we hired because of our luggage and to pick up a smaller car. In case you are wondering why Spain, we will tell you why, it is so much cheaper than Portugal to hire a car. We pick up a very nice car for 8 Euros a day, including the border crossing insurance. Yeah, always the bargain hunters, the secret to longer term travel. Anyway, we take the opportunity to get a bit of a history fix, completing our tour of the Andalucia region. We’d  been to beautiful Seville, Cadiz and Zaragoza and now it is time for Malaga, Cordoba and Granada. We stay in Malaga, at the central but basic Pension Terminal, for 3 days and explore the old town attractions followed by long walks along the beach as it is still a bit cold for swimming. There is definitely more to see than expected as this place has a reputation for hordes of people taking advantage of cheap package deal holidays to get sunburnt and pissed on wonderful affordable Spanish wine and beer. After a few days we head up to Granada where we stay at the horrible Sierra Nevada Motel, definitely a big mistake. Well, not a complete mistake as they manage to get us tickets to see the Alhambra, but that’s another story. We take a day trip to see the amazing city of Cordoba. Just seeing the Mezquita curn Cathedral with its fantastic architecture would already been enough, but on top of that, just strolling around the historical town and seeing all the sights, makes Cordoba a definite must see in Spain, for us, right up there with Barcelona and Seville. We will definitely come back with a bit more time and explore Cordoba like pros.   

Back to Granada, we had been trying for ages to book tickets to see the Allambra and there is nothing available. That is when the guys from the hotel tell us they can book us in for tomorrow, which makes us guess the local hotels book all the tickets, and that is why the independent travellers can never get them unless they queue from 6 in the morning to give it a shot. Anyway, we pay the normal price, 13? plus 1 Euro booking fee and go to sleep in this very basic, real 70’s style road side motel which for some mysterious reason is pumping, to get up early tomorrow to visit the Allambra, which apparently should be on the list of any serious traveller. We get up early and make our way to the old city of Granada. Ok, the old city is nice but not even close to the beauty and chilled feel of Cordoba, but hey, we are still looking forward to the Alhambra, right? Well, tell us about HUGE expectations... after  Cordoba and the Mezquita/ Cathedral, the Alhambra is a bit of a letdown. OK, it is beautiful, the gardens are OK and the Moorish palace, to which you need to stand in a huge line under the boiling sun, to visit, is also very nice, however, we still feel a bit underwhelmed. We also do not get the feel that all the hordes of tourists are having the time of their lives. OK, it was just worth it and ticked off the bucket list but not going back in a hurry.

OK, it is time to go back to Portugal and check out our plan B, the Alentejo region. We drive from Granada to Reguengos de Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal, where we check in at the simple but nice “Gato Residential” to rest for the day and in the morning, resume our seach of a place to call home. We wake up and I am very excited as we are about to visit Monsaraz, another place at the top of my bucket list. This time, no disappointment as Monsaraz is everything I expected and more. We find ourselves on top of a mountain with endless views, in a lovely whitewashed village amidst a very well preserved Templar castle with everything you expect and more. It is just amazing but I’m sure you are going to check out our photos. Talking to the nice lady at the tourism information office, we were given a card of a real estate agent and we are trying to successfully combine house hunting and sightseeing. We have a meeting at her office and meet her manager who offers to put us up at a 3 bedroom apartment within the castle walls for the bargain of 37 Euros, as it is usually 100 Euros per night on the weekends. The place is called Alentejus and you can check it out if you wish to, totally worth it, and of course, we say yes!

We also talk to some people near Odemira and Vila Nova de Milfontes, who show us some absolutely horrible crumbling properties for extremely expensive prices. It is almost summer and we are on the beach! Well, it was good to see these places anyway, but now, it is time to go back to Reguengos and try again. So we stay at the nice and honest Quinta de Sao Jorge and explore the region a bit more, which we do by seeing all the places above. Of course, we go back to Evora and eat at “A Gruta” restaurant, and it is as good as we remember it, definitely a reason to stay in the region, or, is it? We start to get the feeling that the Alentejo region maybe is also not for us, the summers are really hot and the winters really cold, you can’t see a soul in the street during the day and we start wondering if the houses are so well built because you need to spend at least 60% of your life indoors. There are definitely some amazing places on the Alentejo region, including Monsaraz and Arraiolos, but the question is, can we live here all year around???

 

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